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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I googled and got many different views. Some say, wet food can be left out for 4hrs without much of a problem while some say 1/2hr is the max. Do you leave out wet food at all? clear whatever unfinished food immediately? or just leave it out until kitty finish at his own pace which can mean many hrs later? or feed that much that he can finish at one go? But even then, there are still times they don't eat immediately, do you still clear? or leave it out?
 

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We leave out wet food overnight, frequently. No harm done. If we're going to fall back on all the "cats in the wild" stuff, then they eat whatever they find and don't just eat something that's been killed 5 seconds beforehand. They have different digestion than humans, it will move faster through their systems than humans.

The better question is, will the cat eat the food after a certain time frame. Cats don't eat things when they're too far gone unless they're starving.
 

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I typically feed my girls about an hour after I get up, which is usually just before I leave for work. They like to pick and pike, and since I have to go to work, I simply leave the food out. I clear any remaining food when I get home from work later in the afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Oic...thanks, so no worry about leaving unfinished food out. Many times I forget to clear, but hrs later when I remembered, the food is gone. Touch wood, so far he hasn't had tummy problem.
 

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I don't think a few hours will harm your cat, so don't worry. We've fed our cats like this for 17 years, they've never had any problems with this approach to feeding. In fact Blaze has never had a single health problem at all his entire 17 years of life. If they don't finish it in one go, they finish it later that day/night. If they don't finish it, sometimes ~12 hours later, they ask for more and we replace it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Carmel, 17 years fed that way, that's a sure assurance that nothing will happen to ET if I forget, whew! Every time I forget, I have to check his litter box, lol...worry for nothing, lol
 

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If it were me, I would worry about the food going bad. It only takes one bad experience and not really worth it. My vet told me if I did timed feedings three times a day, that my cats would learn, okay, I better eat this now because this is all I'm getting until the next meal. At first there will be some food left over that I would just toss. But eventually they got it and they lick their bowls clean in 5 minutes. I gave them 20 to 30 minutes in the beginning and then instead of grazing they just learned to finish it all while in front of it. So now, no food goes to waste. I have three cats. What's funny is, one of my cats waits for the other two to disappear and then she goes and licks all the littlest specks left on their dishes. Absolutely no waste!
 

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I feed my kitties from these really cute, small 1-"ply" paper plates. (I think maybe they are for children's birthday parties or something)

I leave them out until either the plate is clean, or becomes soggy from the food's gravy, whichever comes first.

We haven't had any problems with it, though my top worry is actually bugs more than anything else. We don't have pests in the house, but still, we don't need the attraction anyway!
 

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You would unnecessarily panic then with my cat. Sometimes, she just doesn't eat one of her meals. She likes the idea of food, but is not a gourmand at all. It's not the same thing as free-feeding, in that the food is not kept out indefinitely. I do know when she doesn't eat and how much she eats at a meal. I wouldn't mind her cleaning her plate in 15 minutes at all, believe me! But she has anorexic tendencies and I'm afraid that she would just lose her appetite completely instead of being MORE primed to eat at the next meal (I did try it once and she still didn't immediately eat at the next meal either). Once she loses her appetite, I then have to hand feed/syringe feed her to get her appetite back .. not fun and very stressful ... for me!!! :)

As to the original question, I leave her food out until I either get home from work or wake up the next morning, then I clear away anything that remains. She's fed usually at 6:30ish am and pm.
 

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I don't leave it out either. In the mornings they have however long it takes me to get done getting ready for work. Then up come the bowls and into the dishwasher. The two feedings in the evening are more relaxed, maybe 20-30 minutes. When MowMow shows up for his post meal cuddle I check his bowl to see if he's left any and let Book out of the bathroom(that's where he gets locked to eat).
 

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Huh, I've never had this issue, he usually scarfs up all his food and has the plate cleaned in about 5 minutes :lol:
 

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My girls like to pick, eat a little, go do something else, then come back and eat some more, so I usually leave it out until it looks dried up. If they haven't eaten it by then, they're not going to. So far so good!
 

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I have always left out both wet and dry. If I didn't they would all starve. Mine are all grazers and will not eat all in one sitting, even if I take it away for the rest of the day the next meal they all just pick at(all three cats) . I leave it out when I go to work and by the time I get home if its still there(usually only if they don't like something or are being picky) I throw out the dry. You can tell its spoiled when it forms a dry crust on the outside. Yuck! Lol
 

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If it is canned cat food It is sterile to begin with. I do overnight with out worrie. She tends to like to eat at 5AM. Then She gets dry kibbles for the day.
 

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This wouldn't be an option for me (six cats and a dog sharing a communal area!!) but if you only have one cat then a few hours should be fine - longer for dried.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thx gals/guys for all the input, its really very helpful. ET doesn't finish his food occasionally only, so I should feel quite safe leaving it out. ET is a small eater, he knows when to stop even if I gave too much occasionally, that is when there are leftovers in his bowl that I forget to clear.

If it is canned cat food It is sterile to begin with.
Oh, this is new.
 

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If it is canned cat food It is sterile to begin with.
True, true. I've left out two cans, sitting right on top of each other, and in the morning, there were no baby cans.
 

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True, true. I've left out two cans, sitting right on top of each other, and in the morning, there were no baby cans.
LMAO

I think the confusion may be coming from canning in general. It's true that anything canned is (should be) sterile, however the moment it's exposed to air this is no longer true. The fact that canned food is sterile means nothing once it's placed out for your pet. This is why my mother always taught me never to take dented cans of food at the supermarket! dents may mean miniscule breaks which may mean bacteria!
 

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My cat usually eats it all in one go, if she leaves a bit then it's gone an hour later at the latest. If that wasn't the case, I'd probably reduce the portion if I can and feed more later (I don't like the smell of it lingering in the apartment). I wouldn't worry about the food going bad though, I don't think it would happen that quickly so I'd just leave it out until the cat has finished it.
 

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I leave it out for whatever amount of time it takes for him to eat it, which is often hours. No harm done!

I find that if it goes long enough, like 3-4 hours, the stuff hardens up and Murphy is no longer interested in it anyway.
 
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